iPad 2 rumor roundup

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The current generation iPad

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With Apple likely to maintain its usual one-year gap between updates to its popular product series we can expect to see iPad mark II sometime around April – if not before. As the original iPad was announced at a press event in January 2010, it’s also likely we’ll get some kind of official announcement early in 2011. With that date rapidly approaching we thought it would be a good time to do a round up of the more credible rumors surrounding the next generation iPad that for the time being, thanks to Apple’s renowned secrecy, has simply been dubbed the iPad 2.

Cameras Aplenty

Despite the undeniable success of the iPad, perhaps the greatest criticism leveled at the device has been its lack of a camera. As a result, the consensus among pundits is that the iPad 2 will rectify this oversight with not one, but two cameras, like the
iPhone 4 – a back-facing camera and a front-facing camera for Apple’s Facetime video calling software. This rumor seems to be a good bet and would be the one we’d be putting money on.

USB Port

In keeping with the mobile nature of the iPad, getting files and information on and off the original iPad is usually a wireless affair, either through Wi-Fi or 3G. The current iPad’s wired connectivity options are limited to Apple’s proprietary dock connector, but a report from the Chinese-language Economic Daily News suggests that could change with the introduction of a USB port for the iPad 2.

Although this would likely be a welcome addition for many users, the Economic Daily News has a mixed track record when it comes to Apple rumors. Although it was the first to reveal that Apple was working on a tablet and not a netbook, it also reported that Apple was planning a 7-inch iPad before Christmas 2010. Steve Jobs specifically denied this in October but more recent reports have sparked rumors of a smaller iPad once again – just not before Christmas obviously.

As for a USB port, this seems like a longer shot than others on the list but may be helped by the fact that the European Commission this year formally approved a policy that will require nearly all smartphones and “data-enabled” phones to adopt a standard micro-USB charging connector from January 2011. The iPad obviously isn’t a phone, but Apple has signed the agreement.

Smaller, lighter and carbon-fiber

Another common criticism of the current iPad is its weight. Coming in at 1.5 lb (680 g) for the Wi-Fi model and 1.6 lb (730 g) for the Wi-Fi + 3G model, the current iPad can quickly wear one’s arms out when being used without support for even short periods. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the evolution of Apple’s products will know that the company likes to slim down its devices from one generation to the next so a slimmer and lighter iPad 2 seems a pretty safe bet.

However, the most recent rumor doing the rounds relates to how Apple might achieve shedding some of that weight. According to a new patent application from Apple published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week that was discovered by AppleInsider, Apple may be considering doing away with the solid aluminum back of the current iPad in favor of much lighter carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP).

The patent application concerns a “Reinforced Device Housing” for electronic devices composed of a “layered fiber-in-matrix type material, such as CFRP,” with illustrations showing a housing with dimensions suspiciously similar to an iPad. Again, a slimmer, lighter iPad 2 seems a sure thing. How Apple achieves the weight reduction is another matter but replacing the hefty aluminum housing would be the obvious place to start.

Retina Display

Although the current iPad’s 1024 x 768 pixel resolution display is no slouch, the addition of more pixels is always welcome. The addition of a Retina Display would make the iPad 2 an even better deice for reading text and Apple’s history of introducing a new feature on one device – in this case the iPhone 4 – and adding it to other devices in its lineup is well known. This one also seems like a good bet.

The Rest

Other rumors that have also been bandied about include an upgraded speaker, dual-core CPU, gyroscope and, in addition to the Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + UMTS models, a Wi-Fi + CDMA model that would work on Verizon’s 3G network. There are countless other rumors doing the rounds that would fill an article multiple pages long, but we’ve stuck with the ones that we think have a better than even money chance of becoming a reality.

With the iPad enjoying one of the most successful launches of a tech gadget in history, it’s not surprising speculation regarding the next generation of the device is rife. Of course, if you’re not the sort to buy into such crystal ball gazing it shouldn’t be too long before we get the official word from the horse’s mouth.

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